The Patsy

In one of the most self-reflexive films in the Lewis canon (originally conceived as a sequel called Son of the Bellboy), The Patsy chronicles a young bellboy chosen at random to be transformed into a famous actor, Pygmalion-style, by an out-of-work entourage who just lost their movie star employer in a freak accident. What transpires is a stage-by-stage satire of the Hollywood machine, and some of Jerry’s best signature fake-bad performance pieces — a hapless and hilarious attempt at lip-synching, the ultimate cringe-inducing, cricket-chirping standup act, and a singing lesson that literally brings down the house. Here, Jerry’s perfectionist nature also shines, as the famous “vase” sequence is a master stroke in physical timing — requiring weeks of rehearsal just to stage himself catching a plethora of falling vases in mid-air a fraction of a second before they would smash on the ground. The last of Jerry’s big-budget Paramount pictures, The Patsy closes out an era in style — and with plenty of deep laughs.
Dir. Jerry Lewis, 1964, 35mm, 101 min. (Archival 35mm print courtesy of the Academy Film Archive)

Watch the trailer for “The Patsy”!
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